Event raises awareness of improved Org. Farm

by JOHN FINE | 10/30/06 6:00am

Over 50 students flocked to the Dartmouth Organic Farm on Friday to try their hand at cider pressing, pumpkin decoration and even worm composting as part of the farm's fall event, Pumpkin Pie In the Sky.

The event also featured live music, a potluck, pumpkin pie contest and bonfire in addition to various farm-related activities and workshops.

Event organizers Elizabeth Goldstein '06 and Jennifer Tate '08 hoped that Friday's event would not only raise campus awareness about the farm, but also give students a chance to see the Organic Farm's new farmhouse.

"We have some kind of event out at the farm every term," Goldstein said. "They are basically ways for us to share the farm with the rest of campus in a fun and exciting way that will hopefully bring people out there who have never been [to the farm]."

The event organizers said that Friday's turnout surpassed their expectations based on past events.

"It's hard to get people out there for the first time because to them it's working," Goldstein said.

While past events like this summer's 10th anniversary celebration have drawn large crowds from the community, most of the attendees at the fall event were students, Tate said.

Fall term has seen some important changes at the farm. The new farmhouse, which had previously been used as day-care facility, was purchased by the College at the end of summer.

"People first toured it in August, but it pretty much just opened," Goldstein said. "We had just been cleaning it up and figuring out what to do with the space."

Tate said that the group is in the process of looking for funding to convert the former day-care into a useful space.

The addition of the new farmhouse comes directly on the heels of this summer's acquisition of a new greenhouse donated by the U.S. Army's local Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

"Before all we had was the barn, now we have a new farmhouse and a greenhouse which means all this extra space we can use. It just has so much potential," Tate said.

While students involved with the farm expressed excitement about the farm's expansion, some suggested that the College still isn't doing enough to integrate the farm with the broader campus community.

"I think the school likes to pitch it as this really great thing we do, but the truth is that the school really isn't that supportive," Goldstein said. "They like to use it to their advantage as much as they can, but they really don't know what's going on,"

Tate saw campus awareness as the key to the long-term success of the farm: "With the awareness comes money," she said.

"Ideally, [the farmhouse] would be library and research space for people to do work that's related to agriculture, but the only way that that's going to happen is if the College recognizes agriculture as a credible discipline," Goldstein said.

Tate, who is currently studying genetically-modified foods in an engineering class, emphasized that you don't have to be an environmental studies major to explore an interest in agriculture.

"There are so many different disciplines from which you can call forth an understanding of agriculture," Tate said.